23 Jan How to write a job winning CV
Whether you’re on resettlement or have been in civ div for a while, your CV is a living document that will need refreshing and updating regularly. If you’re writing a CV for the first time, or updating yours to look for a new opportunity, the hints and tips below will help you craft your job- winning CV.
You’d be right to argue that many organisations and roles don’t use CVs as part of the application process. So why write one? Well, by having a well crafted CV to hand, you will often be able to use a lot of the terminology and information in it in an application form. It’s also worth updating it from time to time, to let you take stock of your new experiences, skills and qualifications.
We’d always recommend tailoring your CV and application documents to the role you’re applying for. Therefore, you may find it helpful to write a full, generic CV that you can edit and reduce in content, depending on the role and organisation you are applying for. This can become your job-winning CV. So what should you be thinking of?
Remember that first impressions really count with a CV. So it needs to be brief, punchy and make an impact quickly. You need to sell how you would be an excellent choice for the organisation and would be an asset to both the hiring manager and the wider business.
Stick to the principle of keeping your CV to 2 sides of A4 but leave sufficient white space to keep it readable. Use the familiar margin size of 2cms all the way round as a guide. Keep the format simple, clear and easy on the eye. Use a common font such as Arial or Calibri and break up your sections with headings so it’s easy for the reader to navigate.
Unless you’re applying for a creative role, don’t include complex images or formatting. At best it can be distracting for the reader. At worst, it could mean that your CV doesn’t translate through the organisation’s recruitment software, meaning it ends up like gobbledegook.
Contact details: An essential part so that can contact you for follow up and interviews.
Personal profiles: These can be hit or miss. Done well, you can use it as your elevator pitch/ sales pitch. However, any statements you make in it have to be provable. When you say you’re an excellent communicator, how? How can you demonstrate that and critically, what impact has your skills had? Without that, you’re wasting valuable space.
Experience: This should be the largest component on your CV. Put this is reverse chronological order with your most recent experience first. Ensure you are clear about who the employer was, what your job title was and the dates you worked there by month and year. These are easy details a prospective employer can check via references so be truthful and accurate. Focus the detail on what is relevant to the post you’re applying for. Use bullet points and reduce the amount of words you use as much as possible to still get your message and achievements across without waffling. Where possible, include the effect that you had on the business.
Qualifications: Again, list these in reverse chronological order and only include those relevant to the role and organisation. Include the dates you achieved the qualification and any expiry dates if applicable.
Interests: Again this can cause some debate amongst recruiters as to the value it adds. We are fans at Joint Force Alba as is provides more information about the person behind the paper. However, you should only include interests that are genuine hobbies and those that aren’t that common. Avoid putting socialising with friends, going to the gym/cinema or eating out for example, unless there is something noteworthy about them.
References: Don’t worry about including these at this point. Aside from GDPR considerations, a prospective employer will ask for these if they are interested.
That should cover your max 2 sides of A4. If you have more information you desperately want included, use your LinkedIn profile. Then include a link to it in your contact details. You could also add appendices to your CV to provide greater detail on the previous sections.
Your CV needs to find a balance between being informative and selling your abilities. Avoid jargon and acronyms unless you’re able to write them in full and explain them at the start. Genuinely think about the value of each word and work on using 1 word instead of 3. Use the job advert as a guide as to the type of terminology and style that you could include.
Also, by researching the organisation you’re applying to you may find their mission statement, Values and other useful concepts. You can weave these into your CV and any other accompanying documents.
We hope you find this useful in crafting your job-winning CV, but for more bespoke information, get it touch with us.